Het Witte Huis (or the White House) was built in 1898, With its 45m it was the highest building in Europe in those days and the first European skyscraper. The building has white glazed tiles with plants- and flower motives. The building was totally made of stone without any steel construction.
Besides the Witte Huis you can see some Merchants Houses of the 18th century, temporary removed for the construction of a railwaytunnel and afterwards rebuilt stone by stone. Nowadays the Witte huis forms with the surrounding area of the Oude Haven (or the Old Harbour) a scenic place in the citycentre.
The design of the nine-story block of gallery flats for working-class tenants in the Bergpolder district was very innovative for the 1930s. Each story contains eight standardized flats. The galleries on the east side are accessed by a lift situated behind the glass stairwell at th enorthern and facade. A lower-rise section of the building is aligned at the right angles to the flats, parallel to the street.
Architects: W. van Tijen, J.A. Brinkman, L.C. van der Vugt
The townhall is situated at the Coolsingel. The building of the townhall started in 1914 and was finished in 1920. In contrast to other buildings around the townhall, built in the neo-renaissance style, was not destroyed during the World War II.
In front of the townhall at the Raadhuisplein you see the monument for the victims of the World War II ‘Past, present and future’, designed by Mari Andriessen. In niches in the frontwall of the townhall stand two statues of eminent lawyers, Johan van Oldebarnevelt at the rightside and Hugo de Groot at the leftside. Under the guidance of Johan van Oldebarnevelt from 1576 till 1586 Rotterdam became a big city.
I visited the townhall several times for my work. During weekdays the townhall can be visited for free. The central hall is the center of the townhal from where all the important halls and rooms can be reached. In the middle of this central hall you have a nice view on the dome. In the eight small windows you can see Europe depicted in glass paintings by the in 1920 most important European trading partners like Great Britain, Russia, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Romenia. In the middle of the hall stands a statue depicting David with an eagle. This statue made out of one piece of marble with a weight of almost 6.000 kilo was a gift by former queen Wilhelmina.
The Kossel concrete construction system was first used in Rotterdam in the Bloemhof district. The walls, floors and roofs of the dwellings were cast on-site, using prefabricated forms. As well as one-family houses with pitched roofs, the development also includes flat-roofed blocks of flats.
Architect: J. A. Hulsebosch
The Kiefhoek housing complex consists of 291 working-class dwellings, two shops with dwellings, two small warehouses, a dwelling with a communal hot water facility and a church. The Kiefhoek has a closed, village-like character. The streetscape is dominated by the homogeneous, horizontally articulated facades.
Architect: J.J.P. Oud
The repeating pattern or stempel formed the basis of J.B. Bakema's design for Pendrecht. Each residential unit consists of two strips with blocks of flats in three or four stories, three strips of low-rise with one or two stories, and a communal garden. Ten residential units combine to make up a neighbourhood, and five neighbourhoods form a district. Pendrecht was eventually built to a design by L. Stam-Beese in which the repeating units are not all identical but are alternately mirrored.
Architects: L. Stam-Beese, J.B. Bakema, architecture group Opbouw
Rotterdam was nearly completely destroyed during WW2 and is now dominated by modern architecture. So it is nice to discover the one or other historic building between the skyscrapers. The former building of the Holland Amerika Lijn is some kind of historic skyscraper and one of the less hidden older buildings. Now it is the Hotel New York from which you have a nice view onto the Nieuwe Maas with the port in the background. Behind the hotel, you will find some older warehouses as well as modern buildings. Hotel New York is an expensive place to sleep, but popular to drink a kopje koffie (or a cup of tea :) ) while watching ships passing by.
This isn't a very interesting building I guess. Unless perhaps when you're just crazy about churches, like me. But it dates from the 1920's and stood at the very edge of the destroyed part of the centre, now marking the line between old and new. And that makes it a bit special. The name "Walloon church" suggests that this church is used by protestants with a French-speaking background. I don't know if that is still the case, but that is how it used to be. This church replaced a much older one in the centre.
The 'paradise church' belongs to the Old-Catholic parish. It looks like a Baroque church from the 17th century but in fact dates from 1910. The church replaced a church from the 18th century of which the interior is preserved in this building. Open on Saturdays.
Yes, Rotterdam has a cathedral. In 1956 the diocese of Rotterdam was founded and instead of building a new cathedral an older church was chosen for this function, the H.H. Laurentius en Elisabeth which was designed by local architect P.G. Buskens and built in 1907. The front with the two towers was added in 1922. In Summer the church is often open for visitors. It's not everyone's idea of a cathedral I guess; the interior is quite modest and the church itself isn't very big. But it's worth a quick look.
There was a time when a building such as the one in this picture was called a skyscraper. In 1897-1898, when it was built, it made quite an impression. 10 storeys! 43 metres tall! Two elevators! It must have looked enormous back then, but unfortunately much bigger skyscrapers have been built since. Too many. Oh, those were the days.....
The town hall is - next to the Sint Laurenskerk - one of the best known buildings from the pre-WWI - era. Built between 1914 and 1920, it was built to replace predecessor buildings close to the church. The place where the town hall stands now, was once a red-light district and the authorities tried to solve tow problems at once: Replace the old town hall and ban the prostitutes from the town center.
The town hall survived WWII almost without any damage and was for years a highly visible landmark between the ruins of the city. Today, it is sometimes overseen between the huge office buildings which form now the skyline of modern Rotterdam.
In the town hall, you will find also the central post office. Look also out for some details, such as statues or a small garden.